US officials laying ground for strategic dialogue


By Iqbal Choudhry

ISLAMABAD: The recent visits of high-ranking US officials are being considered an effort to making grounds for the Pak-US strategic dialogue scheduled to be held in Washington on March 24, sources told Daily Times.

General Stanley McChrystal, commander of the ISAF forces in Afghanistan, called on Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani at the General Headquarters on Thursday and briefed him on ISAF’s operations in Afghanistan. Sources said McChrystal also briefed diplomats from NATO and allied nations at the US embassy on the Afghan operations and Pak-US ties vis-à-vis the forthcoming strategic dialogue.

They said another visiting dignitary Mark Sedwill, a British diplomat serving as the senior NATO civilian official in Afghanistan, also met the diplomats and briefed them on ISAF’s ongoing operations in Afghanistan. McChrystal, who regularly visits Pakistan to consult Gen Kayani on ISAF’s activities in Afghanistan, praised Pakistan’s efforts to confront violent extremists and recognised the sacrifices the country is rendering. The sources said Daniel Benjamin, US State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism, will soon reach Pakistan on a three-day visit to discuss matters related to counterterrorism and the upcoming strategic dialogue.

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